Six straight Atlantic University Sport championships and medalling at nationals is the Dal women’s volleyball team’s goal heading into the season.
“We have a history of success and I see a lot of ingredients to a championship team in this gym,” said Head Coach Rick Scott after a Tigers practice.
The team has eleven players returning and is expected to be a good team this year. They have depth at every position, which gives the team flexibility in lineup combinations.
On the team is fourth-year Tessa Bulmer and superstar Courtney Baker as setters, so they will be able to set up the offense. Third-years Lauren Koskowich and Victoria Haworth will return as middle blockers; they should provide good defense for Dal. Haworth finished sixth in the AUS in blocks while Koskowich finished tied for 10th.
Emma Ciprick and Mieke DuMont return as experienced outside hitters. Libero’s Alyssa Harding and Catherine Callaghan should give the Tigers good lineup flexibility as well.
The Tigers lost four key players in the offseason: last year’s first team all-star Marisa Mota, two-time AUS championship MVP Anna Dunn-Suen, Amy Appleby and Abby Czenze. Mota was dominant on defense leading the league in digs.
“I think it’s the nature of the beast in university sports, they’re here for four or five years and then they move on, ”said Scott about the graduated players.
“We will miss them but we have really good players returning who have learned a lot of leadership things that (graduating players) brought to the table and are ready to step up to be those leaders.”
The team’s new leaders are Baker, Haworth, Ciprick, DuMont and Bulmer.
“I know (Mota) had high accountability, she always held other people accountable if we were not focused so I like that aspect of her leadership, said Baker “I like to try to hold people accountable and myself especially when I’m not doing well or not focused.”
The team has added four recruits: Julie Moore, Victoria Turcot, Catherine Callaghan and Hannah Wilkie. All of them played for team Nova Scotia at the Canada Games in August and they have played with each other with the Tigers volleyball club. Moore and Callaghan have spent time with Canada’s National Junior team program. On the Canada Games team, Wilkie was captain while Moore and Callaghan were the assistants.
The team had an impressive preseason with six wins and one loss. They are only AUS team ranked in the U Sports top ten at sixth place. Even though Scott’s goal for the team is to win the AUS championship he knows it is not a sure thing.
“We’re not looking past the AUS, we know it’s tough and people are gunning for us,” said Scott.
“We know we have lots of hard work ahead, it’s going to be tough but we are looking forward to the challenge,” said Scott.